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Magna Carta: history, context and influence

Papers delivered at Peking University on the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta

This book examines the history and influence of Magna Carta in British and American history. In a series of essays written by notable British specialists, it considers the origins of the document in the political and religious contexts of the thirteenth century, the relevance of its principles to the seventeenth century disputes that led to the Civil War, the uses made of Magna Carta to justify the American Revolution, and its inspiration of the radical-democratic movement in Britain in the early nineteenth century. The introductory essay considers the celebration of Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary in 2015 in relation to ceremonials and remembrance in Britain in general. Given as papers to a joint conference of British and Chinese historians in Beijing in 2015, these essays provide a clear and insightful overview of the origins and impact of a medieval document that has shaped the history of the world.   The open access edition of this book can be found at

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations Foreword Retrospect and prospect: 800th anniversary of Magna Carta Notes on contributors 1. Historic anniversaries in British public life: Magna Carta 800/2015 in perspective Lawrence Goldman 2. Magna Carta 1215: its social and political context David Carpenter 3. Magna Carta: from King John to western liberty Nicholas Vincent 4. The Church and Magna Carta in the thirteenth century S. T. Ambler 5. Sir Edward Coke’s resurrection of Magna Carta George Garnett 6. ‘More precious in your esteem than it deserveth’? Magna Carta and seventeenth-century politics Rachel Foxley 7. Magna Carta in the American Revolution Harry T. Dickinson 8. Reform, radicalism and revolution: Magna Carta in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain Alexander Lock Index

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